Under The Kilt

If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!” – Mike Myers, Saturday Night Live

Really? As a California child of the sixties, the only exposure I ever had to a Scotsman was Scotty, the chief engineer in the television series Star Trek.  I loved his accent, of course, and I always enjoyed his comebacks:

Diplomats! The best diplomat I know is a fully activated phaser bank.” – Scotty, Star Trek/”A Taste of Armageddon”

From Scotty, I learned that Scotsmen have a fondness for Scotch, and they use words like ‘wee’ and ‘aye’ a lot.  Later on, the Highlander movies and series came along, and I discovered Scottish Immortals run around with long swords, cutting other Immortals’ heads off because “There Can Be Only One.”

I’ve never been to Scotland to confirm whether or not every Scotsman has a flask of Scotch hidden under his kilt.  But with an ancestral name of ‘Scott’ in my immediate background, I’ve always been curious as to why the Scottish people have excited so many colorful stereotypes.

So I’ve brought in an expert.

Author Cathie Dunn (Highland Arms) is a real, authentic resident of Edinburgh, Scotland.  She writes historical fiction and romantic adventure, and is a true expert in All Things Scottish.  She’s graciously consented (Aye!) to answer a few questions about Scotsmen.

Q: Cathie, is there any truth to the stereotypes about Scotsmen?  Are they really a wild bunch of red-shirted, kilt-wearing, Scotch-drinking, sword-wielding, overly-emotional men? 

Oh, I wish! 😉

In reality, you see Scotsmen wearing kilts only on special occasions, be it at weddings, ceilidhs, family dinners and Scottish rugby or football matches.

Fortunately, in Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city – you often spot a kilted man as there are always occasions where musicians gather or special events take place. Usually, those men wear the formal ‘Prince Charlie’ outfit – a kilt in clan tartan, a short black jacket (open at the front), black vest, tie or bow tie, white shirt, cream (or sometimes black) socks and those uncomfortable brogues which my husband (half Scots, half English) hates.

Finish it off with a stylish buckle on your belt, a good quality sporran, a skean dhu peeking out from a sock (a dirk, only allowed for ceremonial purposes!) and a fetching kilt pin.

During sporting matches, you see many men – young and older – wearing comfortable kilts with t-shirts and sturdy hiking boots. Not an emotional lot, but fiercely protective of their heritage.

Now, personally, I like both! The formal look is very dashing, while the informal gathering of young kilted men is always eye-catching. 😉

As for drink, yes, Scots like their whisky (without an ‘e’!), however, they’re also partial to ales and there are many local breweries producing delicious ales. Funnily enough, our own first experience with a local Edinburgh beer was in a bar in Vancouver, Canada (twinned with Edinburgh)! How could we have missed it after 5 years in the Scottish capital? Only select pubs stock it!

Swords? Nah! Haven’t seen any other than in museums. Some stunning claymores, broadswords and short swords are exhibited in the National Museum of Scotland. I’d love a claymore to hang over our fireplace but we’d need a special permission as weapons are not permitted in Scotland. One day…

Q:  Tell us a few things about Scotsmen that might surprise us.

Well, now that we’ve debunked the myth that all Scotsmen run around in kilts (sob!), there aren’t many big differences to other British men on a normal day.

Scots like their pint or two in the pub and take the family out on Sundays for a pub meal or wander. They are passionate about golf, rugby and football. With golf courses pretty much on every corner – many located in stunning settings – Scots love spending time on the green.

A very friendly, if sometimes brash, bunch.

Q:  Who is your favorite fictional Scottish character?

Well, apart from Rory from Highland Arms (I’m biased!) I love Jamie from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. He’s such a strong character; tall, handsome and proud! I like that in a man…

(Aye, I like it too! – S.G. Rogers chimes in.)

Q:  Finally, please give us a few common phrases you hear everyday in Scotland.  (I’d love to be able to impress my friends.)

Edinburgh locals speak more clearly to non-locals, partly due to the large number of residents (including students) from other areas of Britain and abroad, like me. However, you can always eavesdrop… and discover quite a few gems. I used to live in Aberdeen in the north-east where dialects are different, much stronger, and I know Edinburgh locals who don’t understand Aberdonians. I do. Now! 😉

Scottish Phrases you might hear in places…

Lang may yer lum reek!  (Live long and happily!)

Pit yer hon there! (Shake my hand!)

Awa wi ye! (You are kidding me!)

More fancy phrases: http://www.scotland-welcomes-you.com/scottish_sayings.html

Thank you, Cathie, for being my guest today.  It’s been a real eye-opener!

– S.G. Rogers

Book Blurb:

1Betrayed by her brother’s lies, Catriona MacKenzie is banished from her Edinburgh home to her godmother’s remote manor in the Highlands. While her father ponders her fate, Catriona’s insatiable curiosity leads her straight into trouble–and into the arms of a notorious Highlander.

Five years after an ill-fated Jacobite rebellion, Rory Cameron works as a smuggler to raise money for the cause–until Catriona uncovers a plot against him and exposes his activities. Now Rory is faced with a decision that could save their lives or destroy them both.


Intrigued, any thought of detection forgotten, Catriona let her gaze drift over him, taking in his worn kilt and plaid. The light-brown linen shirt gaped open at the neck, revealing a soft sprinkling of hair on bronzed skin; his sleeves rolled up over strong, muscled arms. His bearings put him above the other men in status but his body proved him to be a man of the out-of-doors. To her surprise, his chin was not covered with an unkempt beard—like his companions’ shaggy faces—but only bore a hint of stubble. Here was a man who shaved regularly.

Catriona’s mind whirled as she let her gaze wander further across his ruggedly handsome features. His open face with strong cheekbones and wide-set eyes spoke of power, a forceful character. Dark blond hair, glowing in the light of the tallow candles, was tied back at the nape of his neck. Most certainly he was not a drover. But why was he sharing their whisky? He piqued her curiosity and, in the absence of any other form of entertainment in this bare inn, she found herself fascinated.

When he glanced up from his cup, their eyes met. They held for a moment that stretched like eternity. His, a vibrant green that sparkled across the smoky room, mocked her apparent interest. Caught in the act, she blushed and quickly busied herself adjusting the folds of her dress before extending her hands to the fire, thereby turning her back to the room. How obvious her scrutiny had been! Her cheeks flamed, and not just from the heat of the fire.

Highland Arms is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Cathie on the web:

Website: www.cathiedunn.com

Blog: http://cathiedunn.blogspot.com

Twitter: @cathiedunn


Dancing Man: © Darkbird77 | Dreamstime.com

Drunken Scotsman: © Photowitch | Dreamstime.com

43 thoughts on “Under The Kilt”

  1. I loved this blog post, Cathie! So fun and cute! I’m not a normally a writer (or reader) of historical fiction, but I must admit, you have my curiosity officially piqued with this post and your awesome excerpt! Great job, Suzanne on the interview! I am now off to search airfare to Scottland. 🙂


  2. Gabaldon’s Jamie is my favorite Scot in fiction, and my favorite Scot in real life is a colleague named Tracy who wears a kilt every Friday to celebrate his heritage and to open the minds of some of his adult male students. Good times!


    1. How lovely! There is an elderly Scot we regularly see walking about the Royal Mile in August when the city is heaving, always impeccably dressed in kilt and Tweed jacket. Such a nice gesture.


  3. Personally, I love a man in a kilt (Campbell clan represented here — the blue and green pattern). A local town hosts annual Highland Games, which are great fun to watch. It sounds like I’m going to have to read “Highland Arms” as well! Thanks for the entertaining blog, Cathie and S.G.!


  4. Thanks so much, Suzanne, for having me here today. Answering your questions was such fun – could have written a book with all the stuff that sprang to mind. Fantastic questions!

    Wow, so many visitors already! Thanks everyone for popping in and for your kind comments. Yes, Scotch whisky is yummy (personally, I prefer the peaty ones!), and I love men who wear kilts to show off their heritage.

    AJ – feel free to hop over here. I’ll give you a tour of the city. 😉

    Derek, funny you should mention Mary King’s Close – I’ve taken the tour several times with different friends and love it. It gave me plenty of ideas for the murky side of Edinburgh in the 1720s. Part of Highland Arms is set there, in a lane called Pearson Close that’s still beneath the modern city. So inspiring!


  5. Fantastic post – I loved it – and I too like to see a Scotman wearin’ a kilt.
    Highland Arms sounds great too, Cathie!

    Janice (Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland)


  6. Awesome and entertaining post! I enjoyed it! How I wish I could live in Edinburgh or somewhere in Scotland for a short while. For now, I’ll just have to visit from time to time. 🙂


  7. Hello Suzanne and Cathie. As a fellow Scot I agree with almost everything you have said, Cathie. Funnily enough, the thing I would add is that did see some bl**** huge claymores worn not so long ago in 2008. My younger daughter got married at a converted church(then a shop/bistro/cafe) by Tarbet, Loch Lomond. It was a medieval theme for the guests’ clothing, and the groom and groomsmen wore a semi/formal kilt-loose Jacobite shirts, plaids and carried huge mock claymores across their chests. My son-in-law is 6ft 7 and a half, and gorgeous! His brother and father 6ft 4. And the claymores(ordered off the internet) are not light in weight!(No sharpness to the blade, of course) BTW I’m a Glaswegian having lived the last 24 yrs in Aberdeenshire and agree with your dialect comments. I can have a conversation for ten minutes with a broad local and still barely iunderstand half of it. Fit like! Also BTW as an original Glaswegian I do occasionally go to Edinburgh and love it!


    1. Thanks for popping in, Nancy. Your daughter’s wedding sounds perfect. What a fab family of handsome men she married into! Bet you still love looking at photos. 🙂

      I hear you about the Aberdonian accent. Takes some getting used to, agreed. I was there for ‘only’ five years. Lovely people but strong accents outside the city. lol Good to hear you love Edinburgh. We love shopping in Glasgow!

      Sadly I’m not Scottish (I’m German but I consider myself an honorary Scot) though I have some Scottish blood. My father’s side is called Hutchison, which in their line of ancestors leads to… Glasgow! 😉


  8. Great piece, Suzanne! My husband Rob took me on a surprise anniversary trip to Scotland. It was a dream! We brought back Glenfiddich and Cardu (scotch), pictures of Loch Ness, and some coasters with Scottish insults on them. Favorite memory: my introduction to haggis at Auld Hundred in Edinburgh after a day exploring the medieval-era Scotland (underground) at Mary King’s Close. I am so grateful I got to see that lovely country. I would love to go back.


  9. I loved this post, Cathie! (I’ll just choose, as always, to selectively ignore the parts about the ordinariness of actual Scottish men, as opposed to my beloved Highland romance heroes…)

    The most surprising bit, to me anyway, was learning that there are no weapons allowed in Scotland. None!? That’s shocking to me, an American who is subjected (whether I like it or not) to the presence of my husband’s ‘decorative’ swords. LOL

    I love Jamie Fraser too. He and Claire are my favorite fictional couple ever. 🙂


    1. Thank you, Ranae. I’m with you on the ‘ignoring’ bit! lol

      Yes, the UK has a strict ‘no knives/guns’ culture, unless you have a licence (e.g. for hunting). Scotland sadly has a high knife crime rate so they clamped down some years ago on anything sharp, including decorative swords, dirks, etc). You can have replica ones which aren’t sharp. A sad sign of modern times.


  10. Great interview ladies! But then again you can’t go wrong talking about Scots or Scotland. I lived and worked near Loch Rannoch for a few months and just had the best time ever. Loved the people and scenery – THE SCENERY is to die for !!! Bewdiful!


  11. It’s probably the English that have banned weapons which they did starting as far back as The Clearance when they outlawed bagpipes and the wearing of kilts.
    Love the interview being half Scots myself. Don’t panic the other half is Irish.
    Lindsay of Clan Lindsay


    1. Lindsay, a Scots-Irish mix sounds dangerous! 😉

      LOL Well, sadly many Lowlanders approved of the measures, as did Highland estate owners. Like today, profit was the no. 1 target. It makes the Highlands so evocative, though.


  12. What a lovely post, I’m glad this was sent over to me! I very much enjoyed reading it.

    I actually recently went to Edinburgh in October and wrote a few blog posts about the shenanignans over there, if you’re interested – http://limebirduk.wordpress.com/category/writing/travel-writing/ I really really enjoyed my time over there and found everyone to be welcoming and friendly. I also got to see a few kilted men on my travels and we went to the whisky factory by the castle. Very strong stuff. Lovely post 🙂


    1. Thanks for popping in, Beth. Sounds like you had a fab time in Edinburgh. Going to check out your blog. The whisky place by the castle has a fab choice – and our favourite pub is just a 5 min walk down the road with a similar selection. Love me a dram!


  13. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post! Mens kilts have been a symbol of Scotland’s rich culture and it has been still widely used nowadays. I am glad that there are still a lot of confident men out there who wants to wear this.


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